Planner Review Planners

my weekly review process

January 29, 2018

I wrote a post on this approximately 1.5 years ago, but I feel like it’s worth revisiting.  Around that time, I tweaked David Allen’s classic weekly review process for my own purposes and wrote it down for posterity in my planner ‘sidekick’ notebook.

The kids look like babies in that post (and many other things have happened!) but that process remains unchanged.  I hesitate to call it THE SECRET TO LIFE! or anything overblown, but . . .

. . . to me, it kind of is.

Life contains a lot of moving parts, and without getting a handle on ALL of them on a regular basis, I never really feel at peace.  Neither did David Allen — getting everything out of your head and into a trusted system is the driving force behind his famous method.

My weekly review is as follows:

1) Look at master projects lists of things I have going on and want to achieve.  I now have them divided into 3 realms (work / podcast/blog / personal/family), and I edit these lists on a yearly basis as well as cross things off as they are complete.
2) Review monthly Next Actions list — this is pulled from the master projects lists AND from the goals lists I make for the year, adding selected items to the weekly list 
NOTE #1 – having done 1 & 2, I can stop thinking about big picture stuff because I’ve narrowed down the specific items for the week.

3) Empty physical inboxes to zero.  Especially the mail, which I typically let pile up over the week.  I pay all bills, fill out school forms, etc.  This keeps all of those annoying and distracting loose ends under control.
4) Empty gmail.  This sounds harder than it is.  I basically just:
a) respond to anything I wanted to respond to
b) put any email that is serving as a ‘to do’ reminder onto an actual list (weekly, monthly, on planner, whatever)
c) archive EVERYTHING else in one fell swoop
This way I don’t miss anything and don’t really think about the buildup that might be accumulating during the week.  I’m not perfect — every so often I archive something that I shouldn’t have due to going quickly, but this is infrequent.
5) Empty work inboxes to zero (email + clinical results).  This I always aim to finish on Friday afternoon!
NOTE #2 – after step 5, I’m done worrying about little loose ends.  They are now captured in my system and I do not worry I am missing details that will come back to bite me later.
6) Plan workouts, meals, and confirm any upcoming childcare.  This assures that I get the foundation habits (healthy eating, exercise, and having some Josh/personal time) in place.  Do I always stick to things 100%?  No.  But I do a million times better than if I didn’t have a plan at all.  I also ideally review the plan for timing of workouts with Josh.  As he is exercising more now, I think we will start doing a better job at strategizing when we can each fit in our own time to work out.
7) Review plan with Josh.  Essential – to make sure he knows generally what’s going on (big events, babysitting needs, any abnormal hours of work/social time).  We have actually been using google calendar lately (well, he uses it — I just post TO it to alert him of things) and it has worked, but face-to-face is even better.  We don’t usually talk about the weekend until Friday but any mid-week stuff gets discussed before.
NOTE #3 – steps 6 & 7 account for logistics, so that I can actually DO what I’ve set out to do in the earlier steps.
This looks complicated and time consuming, but it really isn’t, once I got in the habit.  And I LOOOVE starting every week with a fresh clean slate, knowing exactly what’s on the table.
Oh, and when do I do this?  Often I do steps 1-4 over the weekend at some point, step 5 at work on Friday, and steps 6-7 either Sunday or early Monday morning.   
I’ve discussed before that I have grand plans of someday pulling all of my planning techniques together into an ebook of some form — this is the kind of content I have in mind!  Does it sound interesting to anyone?  Do you do something similar?  And finally . . . anyone want to be a test subject for a planning makeover of sorts?  I am going to need testimonials . . .
SIDE NOTE – no one ended up getting sick this weekend – I feel so lucky!  More later b/c G is up!